As the novelty wears off, educators are asking hard questions about how online education ventures will make money and what colleges stand to gain.

Globe_with_Computer_Mouse_SmallA new academic credential of unknown worth is circulating around the world, issued by affiliates of some of the most valuable brands in higher education.

These “certificates of mastery,” available for free to anyone with an Internet connection who passes an online course, come from BerkeleyX, MITx and HarvardX. Soon, there will be certificates from GeorgetownX.

But not from AmherstX.

The Amherst College faculty in April rejected a proposal to join the online education venture called edX, a setback for one of the leaders in a fast-growing movement that seeks to open up elite schools to the masses and improve their teaching. The episode offered a rare window into the intense debate in academia over whether the proliferation of free online courses will undermine or strengthen top-tier schools.

Millions of people worldwide have registered for massive open online courses, known as MOOCs. But as the novelty of MOOCs wears off, educators are asking hard questions about how the sites will make money and what colleges stand to gain.

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Source: Nick Anderson | The Washington Post | May 1, 2013